Couture in line for a title shot with a win over Vera?
Fightlinker makes the case:
With Rampage Jackson leaving the company taking a hiatus from the UFC, the title picture after this weekend’s Machida v. Shogun fight is a bit screwy. The Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz fight that co-headlines UFC 106 will put the winner back on the road to the belt, but each of those guys will need at least another win before fighting for gold, with Griffin having dropped his last two and Ortiz having not won a fight since 2006. The winner of the Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva fight tentatively scheduled for UFC 108 will undoubtedly be at the top of the 205-pound heap, but both fighters have suffered recent losses to current champ Lyoto Machida, meaning each of them will also likely need to win another big fight before being considered for a title shot. The upcoming bout between Lil Nog and Luiz Cane will produce arguably the most deserving candidate from a sporting perspective, but both men will need a bit more exposure to the fanbase before fighting in a pay-per-view main event for the championship — no matter what Joe Hardcore thinks…
With all the other options exhausted, it only makes sense that Couture would get a shot at the title if victorious in his next fight. “The Natural” has won UFC championship gold so many times that it’s almost strange when he’s not fighting for a title. Brandon Vera might not be at the top of the 205-pound ladder, but he’s still a dangerous opponent. A victory would mean that Couture can still compete with the younger, quicker fighters. A fight between the 46 year old and either Machida or Shogun would be an easy sell: can Randy shock the world again? I heavily doubt his chances against either Brazilian, but I would still buy the shit out of that fight.
I’d add two points to this. First, I think one of the most appealing things about a Couture title shot isn’t mentioned here. Couture enjoys a well deserved reputation as one of the sport’s great gameplanners, and with Lyoto Machida enjoying a reputation for being an unsolvable, pee-drinking riddle, Couture could easily be sold as the one man who might be able to figure out how to beat the champ. Couture would still have long odds, but I can’t think of anyone whose chances I’d like at this point, so why not give The Natural a shot? As a friend of mine once said, if you want to go broke, make a habit of betting against Randy Couture.
Although this leads to my second point – I think the case for this happening gets a little weaker if Rua pulls out the win at UFC 104. A Rua win this weekend wouldn’t negate the arguments for a Couture title shot, but it would certainly open the door to the idea of a title shot for the winner of the rumored Rashad Evans-Thiago Silva bout at UFC 108. While I don’t think there’s a great deal of interest in seeing either of those guys rematch Machida this soon, a big win could make either one a viable option for a title show were Rua to take home the gold this weekend.
Check back next week when I’ll have a breakdown of the state of various UFC 205-pounders’ title shot aspirations in the wake of this weekends’ fights.
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